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The Writers Forum at SUNY Brockport

Henry Louis Gates -- Critic, Scholar, Essayist

Host(s): Stan Sanvel Rubin

Tape order number: V-551

Visit Date: February 16, 1990

Length: 47 minutes

Brief Summary: Gates stresses the need to de-centralize the humanities, to move away from the white, male-centered view within the American academy. He points out that diversity is at the center of what the humanities, in essence, are. He discusses the role of multiculturalism in forging alliances across ethnic identities and disciplinary boundaries. Gates gives his views regarding the literary canon in light of multiculturalism. He discusses the historical struggle of black writers such as Phyllis Wheatley against western ethnocentrism. He also talks about how he became a scholar.

Work(s) Discussed:

  • Recent lead article in PMLA

Writers mentioned:

  • Phyllis Wheatley
  • Alice Walker
  • Toni Morrison
  • Langston Hughes
  • Zora Neal Hurston
  • Audrey Lourde
  • Ralph Ellison
  • Dostoyevsky
  • Tolstoy
  • Dreiser
  • Hemingway
  • Melville
  • Twain
  • Spike Lee
  • Arthur Mitchell
  • Karl Marx

As apartheid will fall, American racism and American narrow ethnocentrism will fall as well.

-- Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

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